Zainudin: Hosting an under-17 World Cup is no pipe dream
For almost two years, FAS president Zainudin Nordin has spoken publicly about the possibility of Singapore bidding to host the biennial event.
First held in China back in 1985, Scotland, Ecuador, New Zealand and Peru are among the countries to have also been granted hosting rights for the world’s best young footballers.
Chile will present the next tournament later this year, followed by India in 2017. The host countries for 2019 and 2021 are yet to be determined and Zainudin says the FAS is focused on those two editions.
“We are serious about it,” he told a press conference in Singapore on Friday.
“We’ve started to explore with visiting countries that have hosted it before, what their experiences are.
”And we’ve spoken to FIFA to understand what we need to do to bid for such a tournament.
“We also start to look at the competitions we’ve been hosting in Singapore such as the SEA Games to learn how we can do things better. By the time we’re ready to bid for the World Cup, I think we’ll be ready to do something interesting.”
Zainudin was speaking at the launch of the 2015 Lion City Cup, which is back on the schedule this year following a 12-month break.
English giants Liverpool and Tottenham will send their academy teams to Singapore next month to compete against under-15 and under-16 sides from the National Football Academy.
The tournament will return to its old format of six teams from 2016 and organisers are keen to ultimately attract the likes of Real Madrid and AC Milan to a competition first held in 1977.
“The tournament quickly grew in stature and popularity from being one featuring Singapore and several Malaysian state sides and started to attract attention from other countries,” Zainudin said during a prepared statement.
“The 1979 tournament featured teams from Iraq, Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, Bahrain, India, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia and Thailand.
“The Lion City Cup became so well known it inspired the world governing body FIFA to stage the world under-16 championships.
“That has since become the FIFA under-17 World Cup and I’ve spoken about this World Cup event. We’re hoping to host that tournament in the coming years.”
Zainudin added that the FAS was already assessing some of the youngsters that could become part of Singaporean teams in the future.
“(Hosting the under-17 World Cup) could happen in 2019 or 2021,” he said. “It’s possible.
“So who are the young boys we need to groom? The 10-year-olds and 12-year-olds are the ones we’d be looking at. We have to build strong fundamentals and a strong base, so that by the time they reach those big tournaments they’ll be at a certain calibre.
“How do you do that? Having the Lion City Cup being a bigger tournament. Secondly, we need them to take on quality teams, either overseas or locally, and at national level or club level.”
Tickets for this year’s Lion City Cup will go on sale on Tuesday, July 14. They can be purchased at www.globaltickets.sg, by calling +65 3152 9333 or at any AXS Station.
Photo: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo